While some couples prefer to keep their money separate, others choose to combine their finances after marriage. But what does it mean to merge your finances, and how do you make it work? Let’s take a look.
What does it mean to combine your finances?
Well, it depends on what works for each couple:
- Some couples choose to merge everything. For example, they take out joint investment accounts, and they co-sign loans.
- Others keep most money separate. For example, they might only share a bank account.
In other words, there’s no ‘right’ answer. It’s all about talking to your partner and finding out what works best for you both.
How do you combine finances after marriage?
If you’re ready to combine finances with your spouse, here are some tips for making it happen.
1. List your assets and debts
First, draw up a list of all your existing assets and liabilities. Assets include things like your salary, property, savings, bonds and investments, businesses and any other income. Liabilities or debts might include student loans, car payments and credit card debt.
Once you’ve set out your assets and liabilities, you can work out the best way to merge finances with your spouse.
2. Identify your shared goals
We all have different approaches to handling money, and we all value different things.
For example, maybe you like to invest money, whereas your partner prefers to spend money rather than save it. To combine finances after marriage, you’ll need to find some common ground and set some goals you can work towards together. In other words, this is when you decide how viable it is to merge finances, and to what extent.
For starters, be honest with your spouse about your financial values, and listen to theirs without judgment. If you have very different outlooks, you might decide not to merge everything. However, if you share the same values, you might decide it’s best to combine all your finances. It’s all personal to you and your spouse.
Worried about merging finances with your spouse? There’s no harm in getting financial advice first.
3. Set a joint budget
Once you’ve identified your goals and what combining finances means to you, draw up a family budget. This way, you can both track how much you can afford to spend each month and how you’re actually spending your money.
First, set out your total income and all your monthly expenses. Then, break your expenses into ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’ outgoings.
- Essential: mortgage payments, groceries, home insurance, utility bills and so on.
- Non-essential: expenses including holidays, dining out and casual shopping.
Next, decide who pays for the essential outgoings. There’s no right way to do this – it all depends on how much you both earn and what works for you as a couple. What’s important is that you’re clear on who pays for what bills. Otherwise, you run the risk of bills going unpaid simply because you thought your partner would cover them!
Finally, decide how much you can afford to spend on non-essential things.
4. Have a contingency plan
To combine finances after marriage, you need to think long term. From ill health to unemployment, life doesn’t always go to plan. Consider setting up an emergency fund you can both draw from if there’s less money coming in for a few months.
If you have children, or you’re worried about how your spouse will cope financially if you die, you might also think about getting life insurance.
5. Make financial decisions together
Finally, always make the ‘big’ financial decisions jointly, even if you normally keep your finances separate. For example, before you take out a loan or credit card, talk it over with your partner and listen to any concerns they might have. And if you want to splurge on a family holiday, make sure your partner knows about it first!
Remember, even if you don’t physically merge your finances, you’re still a team. In other words, you both have the right to know how much money comes in – and flows out – of the household every month.
If you want to combine finances after marriage, it’s crucial that you and your spouse are on the same page. Make sure you’re both happy with any financial decisions you reach, or it could cause tensions down the line.
If you’re worried about what merging finances could mean for you, it might be worth getting financial advice first. That way, you can be sure you fully understand everything involved.